Ingredient of the month: Cream of Chicken Soup

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Breakfast Casserole

32 oz. frozen shredded hash browns
3/4 cups melted butter
Pinch of salt
2 cups cheddar cheese
2 cups jack cheese
3 cups meat (ham, breakfast sausage, or bacon)
1 cup evaporated milk
6 eggs
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt

Grease 9X13 pan. Pour hash browns in pan. Pour melted butter and a little bit of salt over hash browns. Mix. Press in hash browns to form crust. Bake at 425 for 25 min. Fill with layers of cheese and meat. Beat eggs, milk and seasoned salt together well. Pour over potatoes. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until knife comes out clean.


Countdown to Christmas!

This year we've decided to do an activity advent calender to help count down the days to Christmas. I had the kids decorate 24 envelopes and each day they get to open one and we do that activity. We have all been looking forward to it and so far it has not disappointed! I realize I'm late in posting this but you could always modify it and do the 12 days to Christmas countdown!

Some of the activities were easy to decide on...I just looked at my December calendar to get ideas of things already planned (like going to see the Rockettes- YAY!) And if I decide one day that I'm just not up for the activity then I can always stitch it out without the kids knowing.

Here are some of our ideas: Write letters to Santa, pick out a christmas tree, wrap christmas gifts, play a family game, snuggle under blankets and read christmas books, color christmas pictures, cut out snowflakes, make a Rudolf craft, go to the ward party, go to the temple to see the lights, walk around the neighborhood to see the lights, take a picture with Santa, go ice skating...and the list could go on.

While I love Christmas more than any other holiday I'm really hoping it doesn't come too fast this year because we have a lot of fun planned beforehand!!


Book Help

Let's just get this out in the open right now: I am pretty sure that I am going crazy. When we lived in Minnesota there was a book that I loved to read to my little girl (who is now getting too big!) about a girl who was small enough to do things like play under the table and get help with things, but she was big enough to do some things by herself. It was so cute and was illustrated with adorable pictures showing a redheaded little girl and mother. Anyway, we loved this book and checked it out a ton (it was a board book at our library), but now I was thinking about getting it for a Christmas present and I cannot remember the title and am having no luck in searches. Does this book sound familiar to anyone? MN girls any ideas - it was at the Roseville Library? Thanks for indulging me and I hope that everyone is enjoying fall and getting excited for the holidays!


Pumpkin rolls!!

SO we have family dinner every month and this month was at my house and we were doing a fun theme.... pumpkiney :) hahaha I just made that up, but I decided to make pumpkin rolls and they are the most scrumdidilly I have had!!! So I googled pumpkin rolls and came across this recipe!!! Enjoy!!!! oh and most people wont even know that there is pumpkin in them!!! hahaha so for those picky eater children.. here ya go!

36 Servings
Prep: 30 min. + rising Bake: 15 min.
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1-1/2 cups warm water (110° to 115°)
1-1/4 cups canned pumpkin
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons salt
2-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
4-1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the pumpkin, butter, sugar, eggs, salt and whole wheat flour; beat until smooth. Stir in enough all-purpose flour to make a soft dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into three portions. Roll each portion into a 12-in. circle; cut each circle into 12 wedges. Roll up wedges from the wide end and place pointed side down 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Curve ends to form crescents.
Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes. Remove to wire racks. Yield: 3 dozen.


Halloween Question

This year Halloween falls on a Sunday, I know there are a lot of religious people out there so I was wondering if you will still trick or treat on Sunday. I live in Arizona so there's not really one of those unspoken rules about everyone trick or treating on Saturday, but what is everyone else doing? To trick or treat on Sunday or not????



Typically I hit the day after Halloween sale and pick up costumes for the following year. I didn't do that last year so instead of steering my children to love the costume we picked a year earlier I found myself asking them what they wanted to do. I sighed a huge sigh of relief when they both picked costumes from our dress up clothes (CHEAP!) So on Halloween this year I'll be hanging out with Cinderella, a ferocious Lion, and a sweet baby zebra. Who will you be hanging out with?


Bananas and Sprinkles

Bananas with sprinkles is a fun treat that my husband had growing up. We've continued the tradition occasionally with our children to the point where they now expect their bananas to have sprinkles on them. This morning we had Halloween sprinkles on them to get us in the holiday mood!

It's easy and fun! Just cut up a banana into a bowl and let your child add the sprinkles!


I just had to post...

Sorry, I'm trying to think of something to post about. I just had to post so that there is no longer 666 posts. Are you superstitious, too? My children totally are. I like to pass everything on to them, even the crazy things. :)

So, today I was beating the crap out of a cricket with the broom (Hubby was at basketball) when my 3 year old starts screaming and crying. I look over at her emotional little face to figure out what the heck is going on. "DON'T DO IT! I learned from Lilo and Stitch that bugs are people, too!" I feel like if they invade my house, they are free game. Do you agree?


Uncooked Banana Pudding

I just made this for an enrichment activity and it was very yummy. And super easy. I got the recipe from

8 oz sour cream (I used fat free)
8 oz whipped topping, thawed (I used fat free)
5 oz pkg instant vanilla pudding mix
2 c whole milk (I used skim)
1 16oz pkg vanilla wafers
4 bananas, peeled and sliced

In large bowl combine sour cream, whipped topping, pudding mix and milk. Stir well. In the bottom of a trifle bowl or other glass serving dish, put a layer of cookies, then a layer of pudding mixture, then a layer of bananas. Repeat until all ingredients are used. Refrigerate until serving.

Yield: 10 servings



Chicken Carbonara

It doesn't have to do with this week's ingredient. It's just one of my all time favorite dinners. Not at all healthy, so it's just a special occasion kind of meal. But, it's so yummy!!!

1 package (7 ounces) spaghetti
8 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 cups cut-up cooked chicken
2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cup whipping (heavy) cream

1. Cook and drain spaghetti as directed on package.

2. While spaghetti is cooking, cook bacon in 3-quart saucepan over low heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until crisp. Remove bacon from saucepan with slotted spoon; drain. Drain fat from saucepan, reserving 1 tablespoon in saucepan.

3. Cook onion and garlic in bacon fat over medium heat about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until onion is tender. Stir in spaghetti, chicken, cheese and whipping cream. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Toss with bacon.


Apple Butter

I love this recipe, and though it takes a long time, it is very easy and worth the wait.


3 pounds apples - peeled, cored and chopped
1 cups sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt


Place apples in a slow cooker. Combine sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt; pour over apples and mix well. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook for 9-11 hours or until thickened and dark brown, stirring occasionally (stir more frequently as it thickens to prevent sticking). Uncover and cook on low until liquid is gone. Blend for smooth consistency. Spoon into freezer containers, leaving 1/2-in. headspace. Cover and refrigerate or freeze


Sausage Zucchini Skillet

Sorry, no apples in this one, but it is really so good. So I am going to share... plus it's a great way to use up your zucchini from your gardens! And just know, I don't post recipes unless they are REALLY good. It's super healthy, and my husband still ate it. That's how good it is.

Sausage Zucchini Skillet

1 lb Italian turkey sausage links, casings removed (I just used mild Italian pork sausage, 12 oz. and it was super yummy)
2 large zucchini, chopped
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 tsp pepper
2 c hot cooked rice

1. Crumble sausage into large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray. Add the zucchini and onion; cook and stir over medium heat for 4 minutes. Add the garlic; cook and stir until meat is no longer pink.
2. Stir in tomatoes and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 4-5 min or until liquid is evaporated. Serve with rice.



homemade bbq sauce

Wow. I've been MIA on Mommy Diaries for a long time! Life sort of gets in the way when things get busy, hectic, and stressful. But I couldn't resist posting my mom's homemade bbq sauce! It is the best. It makes a big batch, but it will keep in your fridge for a long time and you can also freeze it! :) I know those of you who know me are laughing right now..... I freeze everything!

Here goes:

1 32 oz bottle of ketchup
1 cup water
1/4 c. prepared mustard (any kind, dijon, regular, doesn't matter)
1 c. brown sugar, packed
1 T. dried minced onion
2 T. liquid smoke (you can find this by the other sauces and marinades and it also stays good for a really long time!)

Mix all together in a medium sized pan. Bring to a simmer for a few minutes. You'll notice the color will start to change a little, more like bbq sauce brown than red. Take it off the heat and put it in your container! That's it! It is yummy with chicken ( like to cook chicken with this in the crockpot and then have bbq chicken sandwiches), pork, beef, hamburgers, and even baked beans!



1/2 c. sugar
16 oz. cream cheese
2 rolls chocolate chip refrigerated cookie dough
2 eggs
2 tsp. lemon juice
Thinly slice rolls of cookie dough. Press 1 roll of dough onto the bottom of a buttered 9 x 13 inch pan. Mix sugar, cream cheese, lemon juice and eggs; pour onto dough in pan; cover with second roll of cookie dough. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Slice when cool and refrigerate.

Optional: Put 1/3 cup chocolate chips in a small heatproof bowl or the top of a double boiler and place it over a saucepan of barely simmering water (or the bottom of the double boiler); the water should not touch the bowl. Stir until the chocolate chips are melted and smooth.Use a teaspoon to gently drizzle thin lines of melted chocolate over the top of the bars. The chocolate topping will be set when the bars are cool.

All I can say is sweetness! Or my daughters favorite word...... scrumdiddlyumptious!!!!!!


O'Henry Bars

My favorite recipe with sugar! My dad is completely obsessed with these! They are easy, creamy, sweet, and oh so rich!

1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
6 oz. butterscotch chips
6 oz. chocolate chips
1 cup white karo syrup
1 cup chopped blanched peanuts
3 cups rice krispies

Bring sugar and syrup to a boil. Stir in peanut butter, peanuts, and rice krispies. Press into a buttered 9X13 pan. Melt chips and spread on peanut mixture. Let chocolate set and cut into squares.


This morning my 3 year old asked my 1 year old what he was thankful for, and he said, "Mom". I don't think he knew what she was talking about at all. But, it still made my day! I am thankful that my children love me. What are you thankful for?


Raspberry Lemon Lime Deliciousness

Now that we are dealing with temperatures in the 100s my husband informed me that he needs something to really quench his thirst when he gets home from work. Water is just not cutting it. So I decided to try to find a drink similar to one that we had at Cafe Rio the other night...a raspberry lemon limeade. This drink isn't the same but it is equally as delicious! My kids loved to help me juice the lemons and limes and I couldn't help but think how beautiful it would look in a punch bowl served at a shower or open house (and when I mentioned that to my husband he remarked that we would need to buy a punch bowl before that dream became a reality.) Baby steps.
You will need:
6 lemons, juiced
2 limes, juiced
1 cup sugar (oh my, I know!)
6 cups water
1 cup fresh raspberries

Combine the liquids and the sugar until it dissolves and then add the raspberries. Let it sit several hours or overnight.


Glad to be here!

Hi Everyone! My name is Brianne Ralston. I am so excited to be a new member of this blog. I heard about it from Cassi. (Her baby sister just married my baby brother! Yay!) I have loved reading the fun stories and good advice from other moms here! I can't wait to read more!

25 Things About Me...
1. When I am sick or sad the only things that make me feel better are baths and scrambled egg sandwiches.
2. I love to read. If I really like a book I've probably read it 10-20 times.
3. All 5 of my best friends live within a block of my house.
4. My husband knew right away that we were going to get married. It took me a while longer to decide. But, it was the best decision I ever made. We just celebrated our 5th anniversary!
5. Kevin (the hubster) and I figured out we were in the same place at the same time a few times years before we met. We even both have notes from the same institute class.
6. I taught 4th grade before I was a mommy. I loved it! Someday I want to go back and be a librarian. I now teach preschool out of my home. I love every minute of it!
7. I am awesome at Math.
8. I am horrible at Spelling. (Sorry!)
9. My very best friend died 5 years ago. My grandma. I think about her everyday.
10. I am in love with my son’s smile. It brightens everyday!
11. I am working everyday to become better friends with vegetables.
12. When I was little I aspired to be a country singer/actress.
13. I was recruited by a talent agent in high school. But, in my wisdom I decided Hollywood was not for me.
14. I was an EFY counselor for 4 years. I loved it so much!
15. I love to color! (No I am not too old!)
16. I got laughed out of a college interview because I told the interviewer I wanted to be a mom.
17. I have 2 gorgeous little ones. Taryn is 3 & 1/2 and Beck is 1 & 1/2. They are pretty much miracle babies. Don't know how many more we will be able to have. So grateful that we got such good ones!
18. I absolutely love my calling right now. (ward humanitarian specialist)
19. One of my favorite pass times-plucking my eyebrows.
20. I love my husband's family as much as my own.
21. My daughter is just like me. She never shuts up either.
22. I would pay big bucks for some extra sleep right now!
23. When I grow up I want to be just like my little sisters.
24. I love reality shows. If I watch one episode I have to watch them all. I even watched the last few episodes of one on animal planet about dog groomers. Yuck. Boring!
25. I wish I lived at the beach.



Sorry that my question is late, but I would love to know some of your favorite lullabies. We sing a lot of the primary songs, which I love, but lately one of my favorite has been this beautiful song by Billy Joel. The lyrics are just perfect for me and my kids. Please let me know some of the songs you like to sing or listen to that remind you of your kids because we're always looking for more great music!


Olive Garden's Caprese Flatbread

If you've ever had Caprese Flatbread at Olive Garden you know how good it is. I was pleasantly surprised to find this recipe on Olive Garden's website. I've been making over the last two years when my Father-In-Law's delicious tomatoes are ready for harvest. It's always a hit....even with my Italian chef father. That's saying something!

Go to the Olive Garden recipe here.


Computer Time!

My kids have never played video games but recently they have become more and more interested in playing games on the computer. So far my daughter has stuck to playing Princess games on Disney's web page and my son prefers games from the Little People web page. My daughter also thinks it's fun to play on Starfall...and I appreciate this as well since it's more educational.

How do you feel about your kids having "Computer Time?" How much time is appropriate for children? What Web sites do you use? Do you let them at it on their own or do you sit down and play along with them?


Garden Cake

DH's grandpa turned 80 last week and grandma asked me & my sister-in-law to make a garden cake that had bunnies & chickens. This is what we came up with:

The chicken coop and the fence were made by my sister-in-law and the vegetables and animals as well as the cake itself were made by yours truly.



We love getting to know our readers and contributors better every month. This month we want to know what you are good at! What are your talents or skills? What do people complement you on? Is it your cooking? Your smile? Are you good at sports? Are you musical? Leave a quick comment so we can get to know you better!


Sour Cream Bundt Cake

Can you tell that I LOVE sour cream?!?!

This is another favorite. It's really like coffee cake. It's can be a dessert and it's also great for brunch.

1 box butter recipe cake mix
1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 heaping cup sour cream
1 cup chopped nuts (I use pecans or walnuts)
4 Tbsp. brown sugar
4 tsp. cinnamon

Combine cake mix, sugar, eggs, oil & sour cream in mixer. Fold in nuts.

In a separate bowl, combine brown sugar & cinnamon.

Grease bundt pan with butter then line with flour. Put 1/3 of the brown sugar mixture in the bottom of the pan. Add 1/2 the cake batter. Layer another 1/3 of the sugar mixture. Add the remaining cake batter. Top with remaining sugar mixture.

Bake at 350 for 60-65 minutes.

White Almond Sour Cream Cake

I don't know if I ever mentioned it, but as a hobby, my SIL & I decorate cakes.

Our favorite cake isa White Almond Sour Cream (WASC) cake that we usually pair it with a Mexican Vanilla buttercream. This cake stays really moist, but at the same time it's sturdy enough to carve and shape.

2 boxes white cake mix

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 teas. salt

8 egg whites

2 2/3 cups water

4 Tbls. vegetable oil

2 cups (16oz carton) sour cream

2 teaspoon clear vanilla flavor

2 teaspoons almond extract

View full recipe

Mix all dry ingredients by hand using a whisk in a very large mixing bowl.

Add the rest of the ingredients and beat on low speed for 2 minutes.

Bake at 325 degrees

(This is a wedding cake we made for our Aunt's wedding at the Botanical Gardens. It was an outdoor wedding with a dutch oven dinner so we displayed the cakes in dutch ovens.)

Spinach 'n Sour Cream

I love sour cream. I find reasons to use it. The first recipe that came to my mind when I saw the weekly ingredient was Spinach 'n Sour Cream. A lot of people are grossed out by creamed spinach, but this has a great onion flavor behind it and it's definitely worth a try.

2 (10 oz.) pkgs. frozen, chopped spinach

¾ cup white sauce (see below)

1 heaping cup sour cream

¾ TBSP. onion powder

1 tsp. chicken bouillon

½ tsp. salt

grated Parmesan cheese (optional)


1 TBSP. butter

2 TBSP. flour

2/4 cup milk

Melt butter; add flour and milk. Stir until thick.

View full recipe

Spinach in Sour Cream

Cook spinach according to directions and drain well. Blend together white sauce, sour cream, onion powder, bouillon, and salt. Combine with spinach and combine in casserole dish. Cover with cheese. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes.

The Road Trip Fairy

My family of 5 just made the longest road trip of our lives as we moved from one hot place to an even hotter one. Our kids are 5yrs old, 3yrs old, and 5 weeks old. I was mostly worried about how the 5 week old would manage his car seat for the week but I knew if I could keep the older two content I could focus more on the baby. Aside from frequent stops, nightly swimming and licorice...a new fairy was born. The Road Trip Fairy definitely got us through our trip. Each morning the Road Trip Fairy magically left a fun new toy on their seat (big thanks to Grandma for supplying most of these toys for us!) My kids were always very excited to get back into the car to see what they would find...there were never any tears spilt because they were sick of the car. The Road Trip Fairy has become a new part of our family and will come with us on any future trip without a doubt. Feel free to adopt will save your vacation!!


Cloth Diapers

I've been looking into cloth and I think they're pretty awesome! Whenever I mention it to anybody, I get a lot of grossed out looks and "why on earth would you do that?" questions. But I don't care what other people think and I'm going to do what's best for my family.

I found a Utah based company called Uncommon Bottom. They have a great website and they offer to come do Diaper Parties so you can get a hands-on lesson about cloth diapers. Laina from Uncommon Bottom came to my diaper party last night. She is awesome and I am fully converted to cloth diapers. The price was the big factor for me. It costs about $400 to get the 18 diapers that you'll need for you baby and that will last you from birth to potty training. And you'll be able to use them for your next baby, maybe even a third. On the other hand, you'll spend about $17oo on disposable diapers for one baby from birth to 3 years old. Times that by two kids!

I know it's not for everyone but I also think that there are a lot if misconceptions about cloth diapers nowadays. Cloth diapers have come so far. It's no longer rubber pants and diaper pins and swishing diapers in the toilet. They're really more like disposable diapers now.

Anyway, I'm just curious if anyone else has used cloth diapers for their little ones.

Whooga Ugg boots

Hello Mommies!
Every once in a while we get a website that is interested in advertising on Mommy Diaries! This time we were contacted by Whooga which is a fashion store with guides on comfortable fashion and Ugg boots! From fashion history, style guides, to a lot of info on Ugg boots, and Ugg boots that you can purchase online (which will later be expanding to include other comfortable winter fashions).
She also blogs about fashion in general and how fashion and comfort don't have to clash with each other.
She has also offered our readers a discount code for a $30 credit towards any purchase on her site! The code is: 515MD. Use the code at checkout. It will only be valid for 2 weeks!
So go check out the site by clicking below and get some good fashion tips and some cute boots!!



Anybody can take good pictures of their kids

Ready for some photo tips?
I use to work in a portrait studio. I was the manager in charge of photography, so I spent most of my day in the camera room. I was obsessed with portrait studios at that point, I told my husband I was going to bring my children every month for their first year. We compromised. He would buy me an SLR and I would start my own photo business and I would never make him go to a studio. Not everybody can afford an SLR, so how do you get nice pictures of your children without spending a fortune at a studio? Here are my tips.

1. Shoot Outside. The fastest way to spot an amateur photo is use of direct flash(a single flash, pointed directly at the subject, such as on your point and shoot.) Shooting outside will make in not necessary to use a flash.
2. Don't shoot in the middle of the day. The sun is directly overhead which can cause weird light. I like mornings or early evenings.
3. Crop in. Have you ever looked at professional photography? There is not tons and tons of background. The frame is filled with the subject, there are a few exceptions to this rule but don't be afraid to get close.
4. Get your kids ready! When you take your kids to a professional, you dress them to the nines. Do the same thing for your shoot. It is going to look way more professional if you children's hair is done and they are clean.
5. Don't yell at your children. We had a saying when I worked at the portrait studio, once mom starts yelling, it's over. You upset your child when you yell and an upset child tends to not smile.
6. Shoot over a few days. The beauty of taking your own children's pictures is you can redo them. No money lost. Kids have bad days, just like you.
7. Pick a location other than your backyard. The park down the street is great because you can catch them in their playing element and it is close, so you are not upset over a redo.
8. Take a gazillion pictures. That is the beauty of digital, take a gazillion and go through them at home.
9. Wait until you are at home to delete. Sometimes a great photo looks crappy on that little screen or vice versa.
10. Bring a helper. Whether it is your husband, a friend, your mom. Bring someone that your kids like and will smile for. Since you are the parent, sometimes your kids will ignore your pleas for them to look at you. When my 18-month-old is being particularly stubborn, having my husband there always helps.
11. Don't be afraid to edit, or ask for help. I am always willing to help you figure out how to edit a photo.

Looking for more photo information here are this month's post at my blog on photo editing:

Photo cutouts- How to make it look like you went to Paris, when you didn't
File Management- How to keep your photos safe
How to use Layers and a free alternative to photoshop
Color Management - How to fix the bad color in your photos.

(The pictures in this post are all photos I have taken of my child, at a simple locations such as a park.)


The PERFECT Roast Beef

I found this method of cooking a roast on recipezaar. I tried it today and it truly is perfect!

I cooked mine medium-rare so it does look quite pink. I should have let it sit longer to avoid losing all this juice, but it doesn't matter, it was moist and delicious! I find that often the beef flavor gets covered up by all the herbs and other ingredients that recipe's call for, but this recipe actually lets you taste the beef.

Another major bonus: this roast took less than an hour to cook!

Try it next time you're making a Sunday roast!


Tricks of the Trade...

So I've been out of town and just realized it was my turn for Tricks of the Trade. So here it is, better late than never right?

For Family Night on Monday we will be creating 72 hour kits for each member of our family. I will be going to the store that morning. Here is my tricks of the trade question...what should I buy? I have 3 girls, 4 (almost 5),3 and 11 months.

I'm also trying to decide if we should discuss earthquakes/fires and where to go and what to do. They are so little, I'm afraid of totally freaking them out. When have you discussed this with your kids, how old were they and what did you tell them.


Tricks of the Trade....Bridal Shower

I am throwing my first Bridal Shower for my almost sister in law Cami. They are getting married June 4th in the Oakland California Temple! Road trip:) Anyway.... I have never really done one before... we are going to have fun... but I need idea's. What to eat? Games to play? Gifts to give? yada yada yada!!!! So.... PLEASE help! Thanks


120 Mile Challenge

My friend, Cat, has had quite the past year and has been blogging about her impressive weight loss. To keep working towards her goals and to motivate others to exercise, she has come up with a fun 120 Mile Challenge for the summer. It sounds like a lot at first, but it is very doable for any fitness level and I think that it will be fun to track how much we can run or walk. She is also gathering sponsors for some fun prizes. Anyway, if you'd like to join me go on over to her blog and join the Challenge!

Death by Oreo

This is a spin on Hello Dolly's but for Oreo lovers. But beware! they are highly addictive so I suggest you make them to take to a function so they're not sitting around your house.

1 pkg Oreo's
4 Tbsp butter, melted
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups mini-marshmallows
1-14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

Grease 13 x 9 x 3 pan with PAM.

Place Oreo's in gallon size Ziplock bag. Crush with rolling pin. Add melted butter.

Spread 1/2 the Oreo's in pan. Spread chocolate chips & marshmallows. Cover with remaining Oreo's then evenly spread sweetened condensed milk on top.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.


Chicken Artichoke Casserole

My mother-in-law made this on Sunday and it was so good that I had to share!

Chicken Artichoke Casserole

½ lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced

2 Tbsp. butter

14 oz. chicken broth

3 lbs chicken breast tenders

1 (14 oz.) can artichoke heart quarters, drained

¼ cup butter

¼ tsp. salt

⅛ tsp. pepper

¾ cup half & half

½ cup Parmesan cheese

2 Tbsp. cooking sherry

½ tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled

View full recipe

Saute mushrooms in 2 Tbsp. butter until golden brown. Set aside.

Place chicken in simmering broth in single layer. Cover. Cook 20 minutes. remove from broth. Save ¾ cup broth.

Arrange chicken slightly overlapping in a 8“ x 12” casserole dish. Top with artichokes.

Melt ¼ cup butter. Stir in flour, salt & pepper until smooth. Gradually stir in ¾ cup chicken broth and half & half. Cook & stir as mixture boils and thickens. Blend in Parmesan, sherry and rosemary. Pour over artichokes. Sprinkle mushrooms on top.

Bake at 325° for 30 minutes.

***Great with Garlic Mashed Potatoes!


Dream House

Hello Mommies!
It's that time again for us to learn a little about you! This month we want to hear about your dream house!! Even if you never expect to actually live there, tell us what your dream house looks like! Inside and out, and of course... where is it located?

And Happy Mother's Day this week!


Sweet Corn Bread

This is the recipe my mom always used for cornbread. I love it! And it's is wonderful with Crock Pot Chicken w/ Black Beans and Cream Cheese!

1 cup margarine
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 cups cornmeal
3 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3 cups milk

Cream margarine and sugar. Add 3 eggs, beat one at a time.
Sift together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt.
Alternate adding wet and dry mixtures to creamed margarine.
Bake in a greased/floured 13“x9”x2" pan at 350° for 45-50 minutes.

***Note: Recipe may be halved and baked in a 8"x8" pan.

Crock Pot Chicken w/Black Beans and Cream Cheese

I like to search recipezaar when I'm in the mood to try something new. I always search by rating. If 900 people give a recipe and average of 4 1/2 out of 5 stars it must be pretty good. I was looking for something easy because I had a busy Saturday ahead of me and the missionaries coming over for dinner at 5:00. Enter Crock Pot Chicken w/Black Beans and Salsa.
It's not the most appetizing to look at, but you won't care once you taste it. And it's so easy!

4-5 frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 (15.5 oz.) can black beans, drained
1 (15 oz.) can corn, drained
1 (15 oz.) jar salsa, any kind
1 (8 oz. ) package cream cheese

Place FROZEN chicken breasts in crock pot.
Add beans, corn and salsa.
Cook on high for 4-5 hours or until chicken in cooked.
Add cream cheese (just throw it on top) and let sit until melted.
Stir & enjoy!

This is excellent with sweet corn bread.

***Note: Someone on recipezaar commented that using hot salsa would give this more flavor. I used wal-mart's Great Value brand of hot salsa and it was excellent. The next time I made it, I used Pace's Picante Hot Salsa. It was SO HOT that we couldn't eat it. We tried. We really hate to throw away food, but we simply couldn't eat it. So, if you're sensitive to heat, be careful of the salsa you choose.

Fajita Marinade

My mother-in-law and I were recently shopping at Costco on a Saturday. She asked me what I'd like for Sunday dinner and I quickly answered "fajitas!"
As we walked through the store, testing all the samples we came across a lady sampling beef. It was delicious! I asked the lady what kind of seasoning she used and she told me that she had been marinading the meat in 7-up and McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning. The 7-up tenderizes the meat and the steak seasoning gives it a lot of flavor.

My mother-in-law marinated the steak while before church on Sunday so it was nice and tender by dinnertime. My hubby cooked up the meat while we got the rest of the fajita fix-ins ready. I like sauteed red peppers & onions, sour cream, homemade guacamole, shredded cheese and, of course, freshly cooked tortillas. By freshly cooked I don't mean that I made the dough, but I like to buy the raw tortillas at Costco and cook them up right before we eat.

So good! Everybody went back for 2nds & 3rds!


I'm Brenna and I'm really excited to be a new author the Mommy Diaries!

I'm a 23-year-old SAHM of an 18-month-old daughter named Bridget and the hubs and I just decided to start trying for #2!

Before my baby girl came, I was in the nursing field, working in Labor & Delivery (so much fun!). But I wanted, and luckily the hubs also wanted, me to stay home. I always said that I wanted the "I Love Lucy lifestyle", but without all the crazy antics. I wanted to stay home, keep a clean house, raise happy kids, and have dinner on the table when hubby came home from work every night. Well, I have a happy kid. I try to have dinner on the table every night. It seems like I go through spurts of having a hot dinner every night then I get into a "fend for yourself" slump. As for a clean house, I really try hard to achieve that. If my house is messy, I feel really anxious and can't rest until it's clean. I love cleaning products and I like to be as resourceful as I can when it comes to cleaning. For instance, I make my own laundry soap and dryer sheets, which I'll post soon.

My wonderful husband is Mike. We have been married for 2 1/2 years. And even thought she was 5 weeks preemie, we were blessed to have our daughter born 10 days before our first anniversary because we were able to take her with us when we were sealed in the temple. I wouldn't trade that experience for anything in this world. The best day of our lives
made better by having
our beautiful 12-day-old baby with us.

Mike is an HVAC technician (heating and air conditioning) and at night he picks up dead bodies. We also live next door to a mortuary. Our current goal is to get completely out of debt so working for the mortuary is a great thing for us. They give us a house to live in, and in exchange Mike picks up bodies and works at viewings in the evenings. I am blessed to have a hard working husband who is willing to do anything for his family.

I love being a wife and homemaker and everything that goes along with it. I'm the daughter of an Italian chef, so I love to cook. I also love to craft, coupon, clean and sew.

I recently got called to be 2nd counselor in the Primary Presidency. I'm terrified. I feel like I'm way too young to be in any kind of leadership position. But if that's where the Lord needs me, I'll happily obey.

So that's me.
And here's a current picture of my angel:


Pre-school alternatives

Next year my first son will be four and ready for some sort of pre-school. The word on the playground is that preschools are a hot topic. I live in Southern Maryland and don't know if it is like this everywhere but here are the options where I live:

Public pre-school: difficult to get into if your child isn't behind in any sort of way with a relatively stable home and family life.

Private pre-school (what most kids here do): there are lots of church pre-schools here, mostly Christian-based. They are very expensive (I don't have a number to give you but it seems way too expensive to be paying monthly) and the good ones have a 2-3 year waiting list. Basically, the second you know you are pregnant is the time to get your name on the list.

I've looked into Joy School because I remember my mom doing it with me and my brothers when I was young. It costs a little bit up front but overall the cost is much cheaper. It is closer to home where I can control it more, they still get the benefits of being taught by someone other than me, and they can still benefit from peer interaction.

I was wondering if anyone has successfully run a pre-school from their home or as a coop with other moms, like Joy School or a FREE one. We are all smart moms who are creative and capable. I was just hoping someone could give me some experienced advice.


One Hour Craft - Plate stand/cake stand

Hello folks. I know my track record for doing crafts at the beginning of the month has been horrible lately.... sorry! It seems like the world of having two kids has completely taken over my life. Anyways, I've got an awesome, quick, easy and very fun craft!!! The girls in my ward at church did a craft night a few years ago and they make these beautiful cake/plate stands using plates and glass candle sticks. They keep popping up at ward functions and they are all so gorgeous and fun I really wanted on. So I thought I would give it a try.

Here's what you need: (ok, sorry for the horrible photos!)
-epoxy ( a type of glue that will glue onto glass and things that regular glue won't work with) or glass glue. I think epoxy works better, so shoot for that. You can probably find it at Joanns or any other craft store. Even Home Depot carries it.
-a plate (any size, color, and shape) My plate is white and my candlestick is glass, I like it, but the girls at church have glass plates and glass candlesticks, it looks really elegant.
-a candlestick

**sidenote: I got my plate and candlestick at the dollar store. So for this whole project I spent about 5$, the glue was most expensive.**

Now, here's what you do:

Turn your plate upside down, and find the center. If you want you can make little marks, so you stick your candle stick down in the right spot. Next, apply the epoxy or glue according to package directions and let it dry THOROUGHLY. I made that impatient mistake and it cost me.

Ta da! That's IT! Once it is dry you have a lovely, fancy looking plate stand! Isn't that awesome?
Here's my finished product. It looks crooked, only because my plate is wavy.... don't let it fool you! :) I love the look of it. Here are some ideas for what I plan to do with my plate stand:

-sit it on my dining table with some fake fruit, changing from season to season (lemons in summer, indian corn for fall, etc.).
-Use it to transport and display cookies and treats for parties, showers, ward functions, holidays, etc.
-Use it as a cupcake stand or cake stand on birthdays
-Displaying my jewelry when I take it to craft fairs

And mostly, just to look at because I think it is so pretty.
Sorry about the ugly bags in this photo.... I'm no photographer! :) The possibilities with this craft are endless really. Keep your eye out for a fun candlestick and then find a plate to match and you've got yourself a unique craft and something useful too!! Oh, and I plan to make a hord of these for gifts, wouldn't YOU be excited to get one?!! PLEASE post pictures if you make one, I want to see all the creativity out there!


How to Get Your Kids to Pick Up After Themselves

Allrighty, so first off, can I just say that my kids are SO NOT a shining example of little children who dutifully only play with one toy, and put it away before they get out another. NOPE!

And can I also say that I am not diligent about MAKING them do that? It's too much work for me. I'm a wee bit lazy.

So, since that it not how I roll, my kids tend to sort of tornado through the toys in a day's time, and when 7pm come around, it looks like a natural disaster has indeed hit.

In order to make me feel like I'm doing my job as homemaker, we do a "QUICK PICK UP" every evening before bath time. We make it a race, to see how quickly we can get all the toys back in the toy box. It leaves my family room looking nice for the WHOLE EVENING. This makes me feel good about myself.

I have found that if my husband and I are enthusiastic and excited about "getting" to pick up, the boys are more willing to fall in line with it as well. If we're grumpy, they're grumpy.

Beyond Toys: 
Things like dishes in the sink and shoes in the closet are HABITS we're trying to instill. So, ALWAYS and FOREVER, if your shoes come off, where do they go? In the CLOSET! YAY! If you're done eating where do your dishes go? IN THE SINK!

I was raised in a home where my mother was a mother, not a maid. We as children were expected to do our part. I'm trying to teach that to my boys as well. I want them to be neat and clean people, not slobs. But at ages 4, 2, and 1 there are limits to their abilities. I find that picking up, and being responsible for their own belongings is a good place to start. When my oldest gets to be school-aged, I'll expect him to help with things like setting the table, and other small chores. As they grow, so does their list. :)

Thumb-Sucking Troubles

My daughter is almost four-years old and she is an avid thumb-sucker. She has been since she was teeny-tiny. I was a thumb-sucker too. I was emotionally scarred from my parents' attempts to make me stop. Instead of quitting, I clung to my thumb-sucking even more for comfort.

I don't want the same thing to happen to my daughter, but I am absolutely clueless how to gently help her to stop. And I do believe it is well past time to stop. If she had sucked on pacifiers, I would have taken those away years ago. A thumb just isn't so simple to take away.

Anyone have any brilliant ideas for me???


Baked Potato Soup

This recipe is found on here which is a recipe blog I love! I recently joined a dinner group so i only cook once a week now and I love using this site for new ideas on what to make. This soup is easy to make and taste great! In Arizona we have to get our soup kick done with since it's getting hot, enjoy!

Baked Potato Soup
4 to 6 potatoes (baked, peeled, and cubed)
½ c. butter
½ c. flour
2 tsp. chicken bullion
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. minced garlic
6 c. milk
16 oz. sour cream
10 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1 can corn, drained
shredded cheddar cheese

In a large saucepan melt butter on low heat. Stir in flour and seasonings.
Gradually add milk and turn heat up to medium. Add minced garlic. Bring
to a boil, cook and stir 2 minutes until thick. Remove from heat. Whisk
in sour cream. Add potatoes, corn, and bacon. Serve in individual bowls
topped with cheddar cheese.


Monthly Photography Tip

This is the first of what is now going to be a monthly photography tip.

I have been thinking about this post for awhile. I do a photography series on my blog and I don't want to repeat things. I have come to the conclusion that some things are worth repeating and some are not. So it will be a little bit of both.

Do you have Photoshop? If you don't, do not fret. It is expensive and if you are not sure that you will use it, you might want to hold off for awhile. There are many FREE alternatives to photoshop, although photoshop is the best. If you want a program that is more advanced but free, look up Gimp. Do you just want to be able to crop, lighten or darken and turn things black and white? Then Google's Picasa will work great for you. Go here to download it for free.

Picasa will allow you to crop your photos, make collages, write on your photos, turn them black and white or sepia, as well as basic color fixes. It is a great program for those who don't have a lot of time or money to spend on their photography but want some control over how their pictures look.

After you get your photos the way you want, where do you print? I am obsessed with Shutterfly. Their prints always look great and if they don't, they will replace them. The problem? You have to pay for shipping and their prints can be pricey. I lessen that problem by buying their print plans. You can spend $20 and get 200 prints. Then you have a year to use them. Most of the time you can't beat 10 cents a print.

If you are still against shipping, I also LOVE Inkleys for prints, Costco is pretty good and Sam's club is adequate if you are not printing large format prints. I have had horrible luck with Sam's clubs 16x20s.

So now, I need to know what you guys want to know. Do you want tips for actually shooting pictures, tutorials on fixing them afterward? What would help you the most?


Tricks of the Trade Question: Disciplining a 1 year old!

I'm pretty sure Disciplining children is usually a question most mom's have since there are several ways to discipline and many people are very opinionated about certain ways, my question this week is on disciplining a one year old child.
I guess the question is more like, when to start discipline! I have a 16 month old boy and we have been really lucky with him so far, he is really good and so far he isn't mischievous..(yet!)! I haven't really thought about types of discipline or anything yet for him since he doesn't really do anything wrong yet, especially on purpose, I just figured he's to young to think to really discipline effectively. Anyways I have a couple friends with kids his same age and a little while ago one mentioned putting her kid in a time out when he misbehaves and the other uses 'spankings' as a threat to get hers to stop. It seems like these work for their kids and i'm sure getting in the habit of a specific discipline plan young is good so they will know when something is bad and there are consequences when they do it. The one thing Dylan does that i'm pretty sure he knows he shouldn't do is hit the TV, for now we just say no, and turn him around and make him walk the other way, my husband used to grab him before he got to it and lay him down and hold him there for a minute saying it's not okay, but then he wanted to make sure not to be too aggressive and scare him so we just kind of remind him with no and hope that he will get it soon. Is this something, in your opinion, that should have any kind of punishment?? He still seems young to me for a real punishment but I want to get him in good habits!
So I made this question long, but what is your discipline techniques and how young do you start them???



Well this is a REALLY late "about us" question for March! But with Easter this weekend I thought it would be fun to hear how everyone celebrates Easter. So what do you do to make the day special?


The joke is on...

I need some help! In 9 1/2 years of marriage I have rarely pulled off a good April Fools prank on my husband and I would love to actually surprise him. However, part of the problem is my lack of creativity in this department. Does anyone have some great ideas to get your hubbies on April Fools?

Tricks of the Trade.... How do you.....?

Get your kids to pick up after themselves???? Maybe this question has already been asked, but we are seriously struggling with the masses of toys around our house. I thought that having a bigger home (when I say bigger, I mean bigger than my 900 sq. foot apt. of 3 years) with a basement would keep all the toys and mess a little more out of the way. However, if I had a dollar for every time I've stepped on a little toy and wanted to throw it away, I'd be a rich woman. We just have toys everywhere and I've tried and tried to get my 4 year old to pick up after himself. He refuses to do so, even when I take toys away, or THROW them away, which I've done, several times. Now when I ask him to pick up he just says "It's okay mom, you can just throw it away." I know he loves his toys, but I want him to know he has to pick them up when he's done. Our basement looks like a tornado came through and emptied every box of toys we own. When it comes to cleaning the basement, he'll help, only if my hubby or me are doing it with him. Which is fine to a point, but he's the one who made the mess so I feel like he should be cleaning it up.

What do I do?..... hire a maid? throw out all the toys? be the mean mom who only lets him play with ONE thing at a time? no allow the toys upstairs? give him some sort of reward for cleaning up the toys? I HAVE NO IDEA.


March Craft - Gel Stain/furniture repurpose

This month's craft is kind of a cheater craft. I don't even know if it fits into the "craft" category, but it is a new technique that I just learned and have been playing around with a lot! And.... it's FUN! When my dad was here visiting for several weeks, he built me a table. This cute little table sits in our breakfast nook, and is just what I wanted. We got the wood from the lumber yard and before I painted it, it was just regular wood, nothing fancy or expensive. We were thinking about using our table with a cute black bench that I have, but ended up moving the bench. I tell you that because that was the whole reason I learned how to use Gel Stain.

Gel Stain can be found at home depot, by the paint and stain section. It comes in a variety of colors (or shades). We chose a cherry/mahogany stain, in order to match our other piece of furniture.

So.... here's what you do with gel stain:

1. take any piece of wood furniture, sand it to it's original wood. This is my least favorite part, but sometimes you have to do it. Or if you're lucky, whatever you are dealing with might already be in just the wood form (like unfinished frames, letters, boxes, etc.)

2. Paint your piece, whatever color you like. I did my table with black, semi-gloss paint. I also used gel stain and paint, with a shelf and magnet board for my boy's room. The shelf and magnet board I painted a light turquoise color (pics coming soon, but babies are sleeping at the moment, and I forgot to snap a couple while they were awake). So you can do any color of paint you'd like, just think about how it will look with the stain over top.
3. After you paint it, let it dry completely. Once it is dry, take a little sanding pad or block, or electric sander ( I highly recommend owning one of these, we have used ours A LOT, it was 30$), and start sanding in spots. I like to do the edges and the places where you would see natural wear and tear.

4. After you are done sanding, clean off your surface, and get ready to do the gel stain! To do the gel stain, you just follow the directions on the can.... but here's my two cents.
*wear gloves if you have some, I didn't and I had to go to church with brown stained fingers and finger nails
*use a "non" porous rag, not a washcloth, it will just soak up the stain.
*start staining! You are going to "rub" stain over the ENTIRE piece of furniture, paying close attention to the sanded spots. Once you stain the whole piece, you're DONE! Just let it dry well!

I can't wait to experiment a little more with gel stain. It was so simple and really adds another dimension to your furniture or project. We found a 10$ dresser on craigslist that I painted turquoise for the boy's room and I'm planning on antiquing it a little with our gel stain. It comes in a white-ish color that I think would look really pretty under some blue, green, or yellow paint. It gives your furniture an antique or weathered look. Our mahogany stain looks REALLY pretty and vintage looking with our blue shelf in the boy's room. I'll put up some pictures, pronto!

Enjoy, have fun, and PLEASE share if you do a craft or project with gel stain!!


Product Review: Pendants and more

Occasionally on Mommy Diaries we test products or review websites to see if it is something worth your time or money. Coincidentally we've been asked to review a jewelry site which fits nicely with this weeks Tricks of the Trade Question! If you would like us to review your product please email

It really is amazing how jewelry can make us feel and look prettier outside of our normal mommy wear and tear. We were contacted by LuShae Jewelry and received a very generous pair of dangly (and fancy!) earrings. I received several comments from people throughout the day of how pretty they were. That's the best review if you ask me. I was surprised that people went out of their way to comment on my earrings.

The LuShae site is very easy to maneuver and has many different styles to meet every one's needs. The earrings I ordered arrived very quickly after I ordered them in a very classy case. They are a great quality as well. I also enjoyed reading through the Jewelry guides on their site and found the information very helpful.

However, when it comes to jewelry I am a cheapskate and I found their prices to be higher than I would be willing to pay. It would be a good site to pass along to your husbands for those special occasions (anniversaries, birthdays, etc.) I was also disappointed that some of their jewelry was not currently in stock.

It's definitely worth taking a peek at their site to see if there is anything that you like! We'll link to them on our sidebar with the label "Pendants."


Tricks of the Trade: Up-Keep

It's not my week I don't think, but since we haven't had a new Tricks of the Trade for awhile I'm not feeling to guilty about stepping up.


I'm a mom of four now. Life is busy around my house and I rarely get five minutes to myself (outside of the shower). So, as you can imagine, my appearance has taken a turn for the worst.

What are some quick easy tricks you ladies use to keep yourself looking tip top?

Scrumdiddley :)

Every So often, my family gets together to have family dinner... we kids are all in the area of mom and dad so it isn't too far to drive to get there. We usually plan what we want to have and then decide who is going to bring what! This week we are having poppy seed chicken and I was put in charge of dessert. My mom told me to do something fancy and so I love recipe blogs and heart this one so I went there and found this Turtle Cheesecake...... and I just have to say that it was AMAZING!!!! I have never made homemade cheesecake and it is SUPER easy to make! DO IT!!! you will love it! yummy!


Easy Peasy Craft

What is needed?

-Blocks from your child's toy box.

-Scrap-booking letters. The big kind. (I got mine in this big book of paper letters at Wal-Mart... I use them for everything, totally worth buying)

-Some thick wire.

-Some ribbon, it can be the ugliest ribbon on earth, no one's going to see it.

-Oh, and Mod-Podge.


1.Mod-podge the letters to the blocks. Then sand edges if you want to have that rougher look.

2. Take the drill and put some holes into the tops of some of the blocks... use the size just smaller than the size of you wire.

3. Twist the wire around, making sure the end is sort of a flat spiral (like you would draw on paper). The spiral is what will hold the photo, so maybe have a picture you don't care about around to test it on.

4. When the Mod-Podge is dry take your hot glue gun and glue the ribbon to the back of the blocks (making sure they are all at the same level so they'll stand... and leaving a little room between each block so you can move them around).

5. Stick the wires into the tops of the blocks and add pictures.

6. Move to an approved location and enjoy.

It's so easy you'll be up and running for your crafts as soon as you're done reading. Mwahahaha.


Honey Chicken

I got this recipe a few weeks ago and have already made this chicken 3 times!  My kids LOVE it and it's SO easy!

Honey Chicken
1/2 C honey
1/2 C melted butter
1/4 C mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder
Mix together and pout over an 8x8in pan full of chicken breasts.  Bake on 350 for 50-60 min or until chicken is cooked through.  Serve on rice.

I have to double this for my family and use a 9x13 pan of chicken, and I use chicken tenders instead of chicken breasts.

What's that "Curry" taste?

Girls- I am NOT good with curry! The one and only time I was brave enough to use it, it was a DISASTER! And that was in 2008. Help a girl out! I am desperately afraid to cook with curry but I really really like the flavor.

So, what's good with curry these days?


New Button!

Mommy Diaries

Some of you might have noticed our new button!!
Thanks to one of our creative mommies, Chalece, we now have a super cute brand new button. And if it breaks again we'll be able to fix it right away!
So everyone go change your codes to the new one on the left sidebar!


Sweet and Sour Chicken

I love this recipe. It is easily one of my favorite dinners and it is pretty easy to make. The first time you make it, you might want some help just because they are so many things going on at once. After one time of needing help while I made it, I was ready to make it by myself. It has a great taste but be careful about breathing in the sauce while it is cooking on the stove. It is pretty pungent stuff.

This dinner also reheats pretty well, so I make extras and my husband takes it to work the next day for lunch.

This meal is easiest made in an electric skillet.

Chicken Ingredients :
2- 3 lbs of chicken
3 eggs
Cut chicken into pieces. Make a bowl of cornstarch and add a little bit of garlic salt. Make a bowl of the eggs whisked. Dips the chicken into the eggs and then into the cornstarch. Put in at pan at 375 , pretty hot with oil. Brown in sections, set aside on paper towel. Add oil each time each time you add a new batch.

Sauce –

3 cups of sugar

1 ½ c. vinegar

1 ½ c. chicken broth (or water and a bouillon cube)

3 tbs ketchup

3 tbs soy sauce

3 teaspoons garlic salt

Simmer 5-10 minutes

Turn down electric to 240

Pour liquid in pan

Stir in thickening of 2-3 tablespoons cornstarch with water, then stir in pan.(in a thickening all you do is add the right amount of cornstarch and then add enough water to make a small paste. This will help thicken your sauce up.)


Books and More Books

We love reading in our family and one of my personal favorite things for my oldest daughter (5 years) is audio books. She loves to listen to them during nap time for the other siblings, and lets just say this makes for a much happier family! So, when I was trying to find some new ones for her to listen to I stumbled on this find... at first I wasn't sure she would enjoy it, but it has been a really fun read for everyone in our family. It has cute, short stories teaching great skills like making your own fun or making a plan and then has good ideas for parents at the end of each lesson to reinforce the principles. I am planning on using some of the stories for FHE lessons, so I thought that I'd just pass it along if any of you are looking for a really good book for your family.

And on another note, I have an amazing friend, Allyson Condie, who is an author and has just released the novel Being Sixteen.
Since I never will be famous, I have to live vicariously - so keep your eyes on this one because her novel that is coming out this fall, Matched, is being said to be the next big phenomena and is being compared to Twilight. Anyone else have any good reading finds?


Tomato and Spinach Pasta Toss

I know that this one doesn't have chicken in it, but I've been meaning to put this up. This is currently my husband's FAVORITE meal. It has been a hit with everyone we've shared it with. You have to try this.

Tomato and Spinach Pasta Toss

12 oz Italian Sausage
6 oz baby spinach leaves
2 1/2 c rotini pasta
2 T Parmesan cheese, grated
1 c mozzarella cheese, grated
14-20 oz diced tomatoes, Italian style

Brown sausage in large nonstick skillet. Drain grease, lower heat, then add tomatoes and spinach to the meat. Heat until spinach is wilted.

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain water.

Add meat mixture and pasta together. Stir, and add both cheeses just before serving. Toss just until mixed through.

Be prepared to be wowed. This stuff is so good. And it's really yummy as leftovers because the noodles absorb the sauce. Oh man, good!!

Szechuan Chicken Noodle Toss

I just made this for my family a couple days ago and we all loved it. Plus it was really easy, so I loved it even more.

Szechuan Chicken Noodle Toss

4 quarts of water
6 oz thin spaghetti
1 pkg (16 oz) frozen oriental vegetables
1 T margarine
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch strips
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 t crushed red pepper flakes
1 T canola oil
1/3 c stir fry sauce
3 green onions, chopped

Bring water to a boil, add spaghetti; cook for 4 minutes, then add veggies; cook 3-4 min longer until spaghetti and veggies are tender. Drain. Toss with margarine; set aside and keep warm.

In nonstick skillet, stir-fry the chicken, garlic and red pepper flakes in oil until chicken is no longer pink. Add stir fry sauce; heat through. Add onions and spaghetti mixture; toss to coat.

Yield: 4 servings


The Gift of an Ordinary Day

Probably some of you have watched this already, but I finally got around to it yesterday lets just say there was some crying involved. I love things that make me appreciate even more being a mom, so check it out...

The Gift of an Ordinary Day


Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe

This has been one very long winter, made longer by my energetic 4 year old being stuck at home all day every day. I am now convinced of at least this benefits of preschool: playtime with peers away from home. So, now that I am seriously considering looking for a preschool for the fall, how have you all gone about finding and selecting a preschool? What do you look for in a program and staff? What is a reasonable tuition? Will someone just do all of the work for me? And who wants to entertain my son until Spring?


I hate being a mom........ keep reading!!

Obviously I do not hate being a mom! My baby is the best thing that's ever happened to me and I feel like being a mom is the most rewarding and special thing I could ever be doing!! I know I am meant to be a mom and have always wanted a lot of kids!
There is one part that I do HATE that I have been experiencing a lot lately...and that is WORRYING!!!! I feel like the most paranoid, worried person on the planet when it comes to my baby and the anxiety really makes me crazy! Here is a for instance.....
Last Thursday everything was totally normal and fine all day and night, then randomly at 5 am I BURST (literally) out of bed to the sound of a horrible cough, choking sound..I rushed out of the room threw open Dylan's (my baby) door, completely panicked, grabbed him and ran into my room and just set him by my husband and continued to freak out! He had a croupy like cough but sounded like he had a hard time breathing, I Always assume the worst (Which is problem #1) instead of assuming it's just a cough. I grabbed the phone and called my mom! To make a long boring story short I filled the bathroom with steam to clear his throat and had the longest weekend of my life frantically worrying about this cough! I DREADED going to sleep at night and one night put him in our bed so I would be close to him!!
Of course that first morning the front page of the news paper is RSV spreading through the valley..and I couldn't stop thinking about that! We were just waiting for his insurance to go through so at the time he wasn't covered, he really wasn't bad enough to take to an urgent care, which is the point of this post! It's not like he had anything terrible (I read forever online and called some nurse friends and came to the conclusion it was just the croup and NOT RSV) he was pretty okay during the day and he could breath just fine, but it was the fact that I FREAK out soooo easily!!! I was just driving out to my parents sometime in the midst of the cough stuff and just wanted to cry because of how worked up I get! When I talked to people they are like oh he will be fine don't worry it's probably just the croup, so then why can't I look at it that way? Why is everything so much scarier with your kid? If it happened to someone else I knew I would be saying the same thing... he is fine, not a big deal! I HATE to think what I would be like if something serious actually happened!
I've always been the type to separate myself from others in pain, anytime I had a sick pet I could hardly look at them, I had to stay away till they were better. Of course, I wouldn't just walk away from my sick child but I do just want to hand him to my husband and not look till he's all better, I know if I am alone I can find the strength to do whatever he needs but no doubt lose it later!
Anyways this is getting long I just wanted to kind of talk to some people who probably know exactly what I mean, all being moms yourselves! I have always wanted a lot of kids but I'm afraid of multiplying the amount of people to worry about, or does it get better with experience and practice? I just want to be stronger and have more faith that everything is fine! Again it was not that big of deal but it was such terror for me! I always think of the worst outcome and I need to know how to NOT think that way!!! Thanks for letting me vent!! I hope I'm not the only crazy paranoid mom out there:)... It really is painful to love something so much huh!?! But definitely the best thing in the world:)


Tomato Noodle Soup

My husband and I have been in ultra save money mode recently and I have been try to come up with recipes that need as little meat as possible. This one only uses 1/2 lb of ground beef but you could always use a full pound if you like your recipes a little meatier. I personally made this recipe up but I am sure it is really similar to a lot of others out there.

Chop up a carrot and celery add to a couple of cans of tomato soup. You can keep your soup condensed and just use more cans but that is a little thick for me, so I diluted it with milk. I used whole milk to make it really creamy but you can use a lower fat milk if you want.

While those ingredients are heating together, make a package of pasta as directed and brown a 1/2 lb- to a full pound of ground beef. Drain the beef, add to the soup. Drain pasta when tender and add to soup.

Let the soup all simmer together until the celery and carrots are tender. I add Italian seasoning and a little bit of dill to my soup to top it off.